Dealing with my Learning Differences: One Jump at a Time By Michael Kligerman

I would like to welcome my good friend Mike to Melonaid. He is the blog’s second guest blogger. When I asked him if he wanted a picture with the post Mike said, ” I want the words to speak for themselves.” So without delay, here is Mike’s post. We hope you enjoy! 

I know Matt from high school. We were both on student government, ran cross-country, played ultimate, and were even in a Steak Club together. I am honored to be a part of his life, his blog, and am very excited that we are both going into education. So, here’s a snippet of my life: Rewind: Age 8: Diagnosed with ADHD. Age 10: Diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. For those who are unaware of Tourette’s Syndrome is a “neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by multiple physical and vocal tics”. Some of my tics included whistling, jerking out my arms, and even jumping up and down while lifting up my shirt and looking at my stomach. Needless to say, my life was not always sunshine and cute puppies.

When I was younger my parents supported me in finding a hobby more than legos and talking to my beloved black lab, Kari. I played baseball and basketball and roller hockey and even gymnastics. Picture this: a chubby hyperactive kid who would randomly jut his arms or jump up and down. Now picture him trying to play sports. Years later I was talking to my mom about my past and she told me that when I played basketball in 3rd grade, I would get the ball, drop it on the ground, and just look at it while hopping up and down repeatedly. In early high school, I would stay up until 3 am or so just cleaning the bathroom in my house. I did not really want to be scrubbing over and over again, but I could not help it. My parents would wake up and tell me that I need to go to bed, but it wasn’t that easy. So I went to an OCD therapist. Who knew that there was such a thing? It wasn’t easy, but little by little I was getting better.

One thing about Tourette’s is that, for most people, the tics decrease as they get older. Though this is true in my case, they still can get in the way. Just last fall, I ran a half-marathon in the mountains. Not only was I running 13.1 miles, but I was running and jumping up and down every 15 or so feet. It was extra tiring and slightly frustrating that I had no control and was getting burned out really fast, but that is part of accepting that that is me. I finished and it was GLORIOUS. I am now in my third year at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina studying Outdoor Leadership. I tell people this and they normally give me a funny look since they haven’t heard of Warren Wilson or Outdoor Leadership. Allow me to drop some knowledge. Warren Wilson College is a 900-student liberal arts college where every student must attend classes, complete 100 hours of community service by graduation, and work 15 hours a week at a profession of their choosing (For example, I work at a neighboring preschool as a student teacher in a class of 3-4 year-olds. There are other options such as blacksmithing, farm, carpentry, and even plumbing).

After graduation, my goal is to use my Outdoor Leadership degree to take teenagers with behavioral issues into the woods for a few weeks backpacking or rock climbing or canoeing. I want help them to realize their potential as well as teach them communication skills and show them how to become self-reliant. I want this to be my life because there were many people who helped me through my hard times and guided my realization that I am capable of so much more, I just need to believe in myself and jump in head first.

I used to think that my Tourette’s, OCD, and ADHD were going to be the death of me, but with the support of my family, friends, a wonderful high school, and an amazing summer program, I turned my life around. I believe in myself. I try new things. I am truly happy.



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